Paradise Point Review Part I: A Family SoCalCation in Paradise

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My family and I went on a SoCalCation a couple weeks back to the beautiful Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego and had one of the most memorable vacations of our lives.

Having two young girls, ages two and five, the property could not have been a more perfect fit. My oldest enjoyed our vacation so much she was crying when we left because she didn’t want to leave paradise!

There was so much that we loved about staying at this resort that when I sat down to write this post it was hard to know where to start. To make it easier, I jotted down a list of our favorite things that I really want to highlight. When I did, it was obvious I will need to break this review into two posts! Here was the list…

* our beautiful room * the expansive lush grounds * the convenient location * the five pools *
* the tranquil bay * all the different activities available for kids and families

So I will start with the first three of my favorite things in Part I today, please look for Part II in a post coming soon!

[Photo: Paradise Point]

The room we had was one of the best parts of the trip. We stayed in a spacious, beautiful one-bedroom Bayside Bungalow situated in a beautiful, peaceful and wind-protected cove called Paradise Cove and our room was smack on the sand.

With little ones, to us,  having a comfortable and convenient room is super important, number one because my little one still takes an afternoon nap and number two because our kids go to bed relatively early so my husband and I enjoying hanging out in the room after they go to sleep.

The Bayside Bungalow could honestly not have worked out better!

When we saw the location and patio right on the beach it was love at first sight, and we hadn’t even walked in yet.

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We’re off to paradise…

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Paradise Point in San Diego that is!  And from the pictures above, it does look like paradise to me!

Our family vacation week has arrived!  Woo hoo! Every year we try to go somewhere for a few days with our family and this summer we are going to spend it at the beautiful (and I am told extremely family-friendly) Paradise Point Island Resort in San Diego and I can’t wait to share what fun is in store for us.

I love taking family “SoCalCations” to kid-friendly Southern California resorts that are an easy drive from Orange County. Because when you tell a 2 and 5- year- old we are going on vacation to a place with FIVE pools on the bay it takes “are we there yet?” to a new intensity. Therefore, being able to be at our destination in a little over an hour is just about the perfect amount of drive time.

Here is what I know about the property and why I am so excited to go with our kids!

* The property is tucked away on a  private 44-acre island on Mission Bay close to downtown San Diego and adjacent to Sea World. In fact, it is so close you can even take a water taxi from the resort to Sea World and enter in your own separate entrance. This was new for summer 2011. How cool is that?

* The rooms are California beach bungalow style amidst tropical gardens and lagoons. To me, this means lots of roaming space for little ones to run around!

* There are 5 pools including an adult pool. I adore the idea of different choices of water fun! One of the pools even has a sandy area for a beachy feel. These types of pools are perfect for my two-year-old.

Swim AND Sand! The hotel is surrounded by one mile of white sandy beach, so I love the option of heading to the pool in the morning and spending the afternoon on the bay letting the kids build sand castles.

Bonfires! The property has 12 bonfire pits on the beach and you know that that means…s‘mores on the beach at night!

Water sports & family fun activities! The marina has sailboats, speed boats, kayaks, paddle boards, jet skis & more. They also have beach cruisers or surrey rentals so your family can cruise around and explore. On property you will also find croquet, ping pong, tennis and basketball courts.  No shortage of fun things to do on this island!

If you have time, you should read about the island’s long and fascinating history.  My parents told me they celebrated their 5th anniversary at this property back in the ’70’s when it was called Vacation Village. They got sentimental when I told them we were going to stay there.

Fast forward 30-something years later and I think it is so cool my family will be staying on this same magical little island. Although given the recent $20 million dollar renovation I am sure a lot has changed since the ’70’s!

To be continued…now I am off for some R & R with the family and I am thrilled to pieces!

[Disclosure: A portion of my stay will be provided complimentary and a portion will be provided at a discounted media rate. How fortunate are we?! All my words and opinions are my own and any post on Paradise Point is not compensated. Photos in main graphic above provided by Paradise Point.]

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A Surprise 40th Birthday at Montage Laguna Beach

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This past month, on Monday, June 20th, my husband thought he was going into work on the day of his 40th birthday, but I had other plans.  This was the FIRST surprise I have ever pulled off since we have been married and let me tell you, it was so much fun!

To me, the big 4-0 is monumental. So I thought the day deserved to be spent at an amazing Orange County resort, and I couldn’t think of a better spot to celebrate a special occasion like this than Montage Laguna Beach!

Neither of us had ever stayed there before. Let’s just say it is a “save your dollars for awhile” kind of  splurge, because an experience like this does not come without a notable price tag.  However, after we stayed, or rather, EXPERIENCED what it is like to be a guest at the Montage, I understand why!

It comes down to three simple words that together added up to make an experience we will never forget.

Let me start at the beginning.

My husband usually sets his alarm for 5:30am and goes to the gym every weekday morning.  Since I did not want him setting his alarm on his birthday morning (which he would have) I hid this note under his pillow the night before.

When he read it he was shocked, and also a little confused! Then he asked if his boss knew and I told him I had emailed her to ask her for the vacation time so we were all set.

On my blog on his birthday morning, I wrote this post. When we woke up I was so excited I grabbed his phone and told him to read my blog for the day. I loved watching him read it and see his face change from shock to complete JOY.

To think you are going to work, but to find out you are going to stay at the Montage Laguna Beach for the night instead was, well, quite a pleasant surprise!

His parents so generously offered to stay with our girls, so we had 2 full days of JUST the TWO OF US in store. That being the case, we wanted to take full advantage of our time, so I requested early check-in and we got packed up and headed down later that morning.

From the moment you pull into the Montage driveway, the SERVICE starts.  I am talking about the make you feel like a VIP-type of service by every single person that works at the property.

This is the view you walk out to see when you enter the lobby…

The front desk attendant not only checked us in, but actually escorted us to our room.  There was no pointing in the direction of the elevator, she actually walked with us and told us all about the property all the while calling us “Ms. Scheumann” and “Mr. Scheumann” which made me chuckle a little inside because I don’t think of us as Mr. and Mrs. but at the same time, made me feel like a very important guest!

Then we got to the room.  Oh, the room. We opened the door and the ocean breeze and view almost knocked the breath right out of me.

On vacation, we love to sit on the balcony of a hotel room, have a drink, enjoy the view and chat. Hands down, this might have been my favorite balcony EVER.

The Pacific, the privacy, the views…

Just when I thought things couldn’t get better, which was the theme of the entire stay, the bellman arrived with our bags and then came back again with a half bottle of champagne to which we had to immediately open and toast his 40th birthday.

Nothing like having a glass of champagne on the balcony overlooking the Pacific on a Monday morning at 11am! Certainly beats my typical Monday morning which usually consists of serving yet another snack and cleaning up spilled apple juice.

After weeks of June gloom and overcast days, we happened to score with two of the first and most beautiful sunny days so we decided to go and plant ourselves at the gorgeous pool for the afternoon.

Let me tell you about the pool.  The lovely, lovely pool.

Again, the words comfort, service and detail come to mind. Everywhere we went (at the pool and all over the property) were were greeted and assisted and were never left wanting for one thing.

The pool attendant welcomed us and set us up front row to the glass overlooking the ocean.  I loved to be able to read and look out at the ocean.  I actually read a whole book. Imagine that!

From the impeccable service to the display of fruit infused water and magazines to the most comfortable, plush, sink yourself into lounge chairs, every detail about the pool was luxurious.

Not to mention every hour or so on the first day a pool attendant would walk by with mini cups of complimentary goodies.

Frozen grapes? Yes please.

Assorted mixed nuts? Yes please.

Fresh peach smoothie? Yes please.

And the entire time I was thinking THIS IS THE LIFE! By the way, the frozen grapes were soooooo refreshing!  Such a cute idea to do at home in summertime!

Late in the afternoon we decided to take a walk down to the beach.  Have you ever walked around and explored the paths and beaches surrounding the property? I couldn’t believe after living in Orange County for so long I had never gone and walked around down there!  There was a little beach directly below the Montage called Treasure Island that was so beautiful it looked like we were in a movie set.

When we headed back to the room after our beach stroll we were greeted with this surprise!

Yes, that would be another half bottle of champagne along with a personal note from the general manager welcoming us and wishing my husband a happy 40th birthday!

Included was a decadent chocolate dessert and even a set of MATCHES with candles tucked in the napkin so I could sing happy birthday to him.

Again, the DETAILS. They think of EVERYTHING!

So we had a pre-dinner chocolate hor d’oeuvres and a glass of champagne and sat out on the balcony and enjoyed the gorgeous view before our 7:30pm dinner reservation at The Loft.

When we were greeted at the restaurant, they welcomed us by name and again, wished my husband a very happy birthday.

I felt like everyone in the hotel knew it was his birthday, and I loved how special they made him feel. So, just a tip, if you plan to visit the Montage for a special occasion, make sure to tell them ahead of time when you make your reservation.  I loved the attention he got because he deserves it!

We requested an outside patio table at the restaurant and it was the most gorgeous setting overlooking the pool. Here we are at his birthday dinner.


Dining at The Loft was a culinary delight on so many different levels. Again, the staff made it more than just a dinner, it was an entire experience.

After a tough decision, I ended up ordering the Vintage Beef Braised Short Rib while my husband opted for one of the house specialties, the Coffee-Crusted New York Strip.

The presentation on every dish was unique and inspiring. Everything almost looked too pretty to eat – they were pieces of art!  But how can you resist boneless short ribs? Oh, the flavors…I will be dreaming of that dish and might have to plan to return in a few years when it is MY 40th!

After a blissful night’s sleep to the sound of the crashing waves, we awoke to our choice of two different newspapers in a darling little tote bag on the door handle the next morning.

And, I had to smile, because my husband is pretty much a no-frills, guy’s guy sort of guy. 

He has never been to a spa in his life.

So when I saw him sitting on the balcony the next morning in a Montage robe and slippers relaxing and reading and getting a taste of what a little pampering is like, it made me so happy.

He is probably going to kill me for including this picture, but here is my “Man of Leisure!”

After a leisurely morning we decided to get a workout in at the fitness center before heading to the pool.

Again with the details…bottled waters, towels, fruit, water, magazines….everything to make your workout comfortable and enjoyable.

My only complaint?  I should have brought my sunglasses as the floor to ceiling windows that opened to the ocean made it quite bright when I was running on the treadmill.  It was tough, I know, but I made it through {wink.}

They were able to accommodate a late checkout for us, so after the fitness center, we packed up our things, got in our pool gear and checked our bags with the bellman so we could enjoy the pool for a few more precious hours before having to leave and get back to reality {sniff.}

The experience ended when we got in our car to go home and found the valet had bottled waters waiting for us along with two Montage baseball caps sitting on the dash for souvenirs.  Oh, Montage, I LOVE YOU!!

The next day I saw a girlfriend and she asked about our stay and I almost didn’t have the words to describe it because it was so remarkable. I asked her if she had stayed at a Montage before and she said, “RIDICULOUS, right?!” And I thought that was so fitting, because, YES, everything we experienced at that property was so over-the-top amazing it WAS ridiculous in the most amazing way!

I can’t more highly recommend this resort if you are celebrating a special occasion or if you are looking for a decadent, luxurious getaway.  What I loved most (well, actually there are a lot of things) but I really loved that the property is NOT pretentious.  For being incredibly an upscale, luxury resort, it is a place where you feel comfortable.

Although just 30 minutes from home, we were in a completely different world for two days. A world I hope to get the opportunity to visit again someday!

A word to families! If you are looking for a family-friendly Orange County resort, Montage Laguna Beach offers INCREDIBLE children’s activities through a program called Paintbox.  I was surprised at how many families I saw when we were there! One of the restaurant managers was nice enough to give me a peek at the Paintbox facility, it is darling and has so many fun things for kids!  This would be an incredible resort to stay with the entire family.

Now that I have relived this I want to go back! Guess, I am going to have to get my Montage fix at the Ashley Turner Yoga Workshops coming up!

Have a ridiculous weekend everyone!  See you back on Monday!

{Disclosure: Montage Resorts is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor. This post was not compensated and all my opinions are my honest ones. In fact, they couldn’t be more honest!!! It is INCREDIBLE!}

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Family Fun at Rancho Las Palmas!

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This past year was a crazy busy one for our family, so we thought it would be fun to do a special little getaway with our oldest daughter after school was out in June.   Since we wanted to just go for 2 nights, we wanted a destination that met the following parameters: 1. short drive from OC 2. family friendly & kid friendly 3. SUN for swimming  & pool time. My husband did some research and came up with Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage. He sent me the link, and after one click on Splashtopia, their two acre water feature pool {a.k.a. KID HEAVEN} I said PERFECT, let’s book it!!   So, here is our review of Rancho Las Palmas and our amazing experience having fun in the desert sun!

If you are looking for a fun family friendly vacation close to Orange County, this resort is a perfect choice!  It was a very easy drive from OC, took a little over an hour and a half.  We went Monday – Wednesday and left at 10am and hit no traffic.  From the moment we checked in we just felt comfortable there. The resort was upscale, yet casual at the same time.  I loved that there were so many kids running around everywhere because we fit right in!

The LOVELY Rooms!

All the rooms at Rancho Las Palmas are villa-style, meaning after check-in, you can drive your car and park right outside your room.  I love this because one of the benefits of going on a vacation where you can drive means you can bring your own cooler with snacks, drinks, etc.  Great when traveling with kids.  And, it was super convenient to have our car smack outside our room.

For families, there are two great room options: poolside and lakeview We actually stayed in both for one night so I can talk about the benefits of both!

Poolside!

The poolside rooms {obviously!} surround the pool and Splashtopia and are super convenient to all the action!  Our first night we stayed in a poolside room in building 12, bottom floor.  I think all the buildings are two stories. We liked the bottom floor room because we could sit on the patio and our daughter could explore a little and we were still able to keep an eye on her.

Here is a glimpse of our room…it was very comfortable & quaint…and bed was super comfy.

Outside our room there was a sidewalk and then the pool beyond.  Here is the outside….

And all the rooms had a lovely patio with a wicker table and set of two chairs…

On our way into town we grabbed lunch at the Pavilions and got some yummy sandwiches.   The first thing we did when we got there was enjoy lunch on our patio.  But that lasted all of about 5 minutes when Emma saw the excitement in store for her at the pool outside her room!

Lakeview!

After exploring the property during the first day, we fell in love with a set of rooms with a view of the lake and golf course, so the next day I asked the front desk if they happened to have one open and they were nice enough to move us.  Juan at the front desk was so super accommodating. They even walked the new keys out to us at the pool when the room was ready.  I love customer service that says “we care.”  Sounds corny, but it’s true!

So the second night we were in building 8, first floor, which was still close to the pool and had an absolutely beautiful view. Click here for a great map to see the buildings and the property layout.

My husband and I are “patio sitters” on vacation.  We LOVE sitting outside, having some drinks, reading and enjoying the view.   Since my daughter went to bed sort of early after swimming for the entire day, it was nice because we were able to put her to sleep and then stay up later on the patio and enjoy the warm night just the two of us.

<— our idea of HEAVEN!

Here was the view from our room… AMAZING!  We loved it…

And another view from the other angle…

After dinner each night when the sun had set, kids came out to the golf course, many of which ran around on the grassy hills that backed up to the golf course.  So carefree.

And, there is just something special about a desert night.

That warm breeze just infuses RELAXATION.

Dining

The first night after a fun-filled day at the pool (visit me later this week for the full recap of Splashtopia!) we decided to stay “on campus” and have a bite at the restaurant bluEmber.  The resort is SO kid friendly they even include  a free kid’s buffet with the purchase of an adult meal.  We loved this.

And, we happened to luck out and arrive between 5 – 7pm, and you know what that means, HAPPY HOUR!   They had super drink deals and a bunch of items on the menu were half off.  It was fun to be able to grab a casual bite outside amongst other families.

The restaurant is gorgeous. They had a  beautiful outdoor patio with different sitting areas, fire pits and comfy chairs.

Perfect place to enjoy an evening drink at dusk.

The second night we ventured out and walked across the street (SO convenient) to The River, which was a shopping center with lots of shops and restaurants.  I loved that this was so close.  We ate at this gorgeous restaurant on the water called Pieros Acqua Pazza and I had the most unbelievable lobster and shrimp salad. Yum!

Each morning, we walked over and got Starbucks coffee and a breakfast burrito at the Palm’s Cafe and ate breakfast overlooking the tranquility pool.  My daughter got a donut both days as a special treat.  It was hard to explain to her when we got home why she couldn’t have a donut for breakfast EVERY day!

Activities

Every day at Rancho Las Palmas they have fun activities for kids.   From Kid’s Sports Night to Dive-in Movies to Disco Dance Parties and special activities and crafts, there were special things planned for each day of the week.  We were given a calendar at check-in with a whole list of times and options of things to do.

They also have a Kidtopia kid’s camp for kids 4 – 12, where you can send your kids to enjoy activities for an extra fee and you and your hubby can enjoy some hours just LOUNGING by yourself at the pool.   Sounds blissful.

Deals

It looks like right now Rancho Las Palmas is running some super special deals for summer,<– click that link to check them out! Rates in July and August are really reasonable, and they have some great package deals.   I even saw Rancho Las Palmas gift cards at the Costco in Fountain Valley recently that were $75 but valued at $100, so this would be a great value too.

Splashtopia!
To be continued…

As I am typing this I am realizing there is just too much to share about our stay so I am going to break it into two posts. The kids’ pool and Splashtopia warrant their own!    Please check back later this week with  pictures and the recap of Splashtopia!  In the meantime, I will leave you with this parting image of Rancho Las Palmas.  It was so lovely.  We will definitely be back next year!

{Disclosure:  Our room charge was comped for our two night stay.}

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